Brand Name Bike At Discount Store Price
by The Staff of mountainbiketales.com
Tough to beat this performance at this price point.
It’s pretty safe to assume we’re a bit like you. How so? Well, for starters we get excited about the mere possibility of high end bikes with carbon fiber goodies, the latest suspension components and price tags that easily rival that of a very nice used car. And yet each month a majority of reader feedback centers on the bikes we test that cost a fraction of the latest, greatest, wunderkind. See it turns out that MBT is read by many real world riders who care less about status symbols than they do getting out there and enjoying the trails. To that we say kudos!
See? We told you we were a bit like you, but you didn’t believe us. Where was this going? Oh yes…
Enter the Felt Q720, a bike that looks in person every bit as modest as it does on paper (or in pixels as the case may be). While many instantly associate the Felt brand name with ultra-expensive featherweight race bikes (ourselves included) it turns out that the gang from planet F has even the most budget conscious riders in mind when they designed the $800 Q720 aluminum hardtail. Could this bike be all that separates you from a summer filled with blissful exploration? Read on to find out.
The Spec Sheet
Well for $800 you would probably expect to find a few no-name pieces and bits connected to the matte gray frame but try as we may, we were quite unable to locate any. Squish (frontal only) duties come via the coil sprung RockShox Dart 2 (4 inches of travel), WTB rims wrapped in Maxxis Ignitor rubber, Hayes Sole hydraulic disc brakes all around, Truvativ Iso-Flow cranks and chain rings, Shimano Deore shifters and front derailleur (XT rear). About the only components that come from in-house are the Felt branded aluminum riser bar and saddle. Not a bad ensemble for the price of admission.
|Frame||6061 Aluminum, Hydroformed Top tube, Externally Butted Tubing, Semi-Integrated HT, 3D Forged Dropouts|
|Fork||RockShox Dart 2, Turnkey lockout, Preload Adjust, 28mm steel stanchons, 100mm travel|
|Brakes/Brake Levers||Hayes So1e|
|Shifters||Deore Rapid fire|
|Derailleurs (F&R)||Shimano Deore/Shimano XT|
|Wheels||WTB SX-24 Double-Wall Rims w/eyelets, Shimano RM-65 Centerlock hubs|
|Tires (F&R)||Maxxis 2.1 Ignitor|
Sizing It Up
So what’s it like to gaze upon the Felt Q720? To be totally honest, it is nearly indecipherable from afar from their multi thousand offerings. About the biggest giveaway to the budget-minded nature of the Q720 would have to be the Rock Shox Dart fork. If you were to swap this unit for anything that the upper echelon of the suspension world has to offer, it would take a very trained eye indeed to suspect that this bike isn’t upper echelon racer-boy special. But then again, the purpose of this test isn’t to point out the ruse of the Q720′s appearance.
Climbing on board provides a nice upright pedaling position, which puts ample rider weight over the front of the bike. In the cockpit, everything feels clean and simple, much like the bike itself. About the only adjustment we made was to the height of the saddle to accommodate the various leg lengths of our test riders. Other than that, this bike is a very simple exercise in hopping on and hammering away.
Drop the cranks and the bike powers out cleanly. Make no mistake, she is pretty chunky for a hard tail (about 30 lbs) and that heft is most apparent when the ground begins to tilt skyward. However, thanks to a seating position that doesn’t hang the rider’s weight too far off the rear of the bike, steering is quite precise and lively. We expected the front to wash out in tight switchbacks but it held its line quite effectively. And being a hard tail, power always feels directly plugged into the ground. Each crank rotation results in a surge of forward movement; truly no energy feels wasted in the process.
However, the test wasn’t without it’s fair share of complaints. For starters this is hard tail country and while this may mean crank pumps that send the bike into motion, it also means back jarring impact on rocks, slapper landings, and roots. We’re not here to add fuel to the whole hard tail versus full suspension debate (that’s what forums are for), we can testify that for east coast slop and trail clutter; the Felt presents a sketchy ride. While the front tire always remained planted in its intended line, we had no trouble finding terrain that would toss the back end around like a sailboat in the Bermuda Triangle.
Shifting was smooth so long as the rider was willing to back off the cranks a little bit just before hand. We experienced some skipping (and even some bent teeth) thanks to up-shifts while giving her the go juice. The SRAM PC-951 chain is good stuff, but maybe even too good when you consider that it gives so little that we managed to bend the teeth on the large ring.
The fork was actually better than we anticipated. Considering the Dart series replaced the long standing Judy line of budget suspension, we immediately feared the worst. However, the unit actually offers some pretty smooth damping with a plethora of customizable options including lock out (with blow off) adjustable rebound and compression. However, keep in mind that it is coil sprung meaning sag is set with the preload dial rather than by PSI in the chamber. This also means a weight penalty as the Dart 2 weighs in at nearly 5 and a half pounds. No it’s not like pushing a boulder with the front wheel but it does make lofting the front end to get over unexpected clutter a bit more of a chore than it should be. Also be sure to properly set the rebound adjustment, we began our test with far too little and managed to top the fork out with a scary clank when pre loading on the face of a jump.
Some may say we were a bit hard on the Q720 but in truth the bike has serious potential. The asking price is certainly right on for the spec sheet it boasts and the Felt name on the down tube is worth half that much alone. About the biggest area in need of addressing is the bike’s weight. 30 pounds has become the benchmark for affordable full suspension designs while hard tails have easily slipped down into the mid and under 20s. We here at MBT aren’t big fans of the hard tail way of life but are willing to endure it when it shaves five or six pounds off the full squish models we’re used to. As it stands, the Q720 really offers no benefits for enduring the backache that’s sure to accompany long days in the saddle, but it does ring up as a good value.
This article was originally posted on the MountainBikeTales.com website here: